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- 2 Corinthians
by John Dummelow
The problems presented by the Second Epistle to the Corinthians are more numerous and complex than those of the First. In opening this Epistle we find ourselves at once in a different atmosphere from that of the previous one. St. Paul writes in a different tone. He alludes to matters of which there is no mention in the earlier letter. He indicates that a momentous crisis in the relations between himself and the Church has been safely passed. And in reconstructing the situation for ourselves we have nothing but hints and allusions and references to past events in the letter itself to guide us. The difficulties, however, largely disappear if we assume what is regarded by many scholars as proved, viz. that 2 Corinthians 10-13 were a letter written some time after 1 Cor., and that 2 Corinthians 1-9 were a third letter written when the Apostle learned the effect produced by 2 Corinthians 10-13 in the Corinthian Church.
1. Events between the First and Second Epistles.
(a) The reception of the First Epistle at Corinth. As was mentioned in the Intro, to the First Epistle, when the Apostle heard of the irregularities in doctrine and morals that had arisen in the Church, he announced that Timothy would visit Corinth after he had performed the work entrusted to him in Macedonia, to bring them into remembrance of his ways in Christ (1 Corinthians 4:17; 1 Corinthians 16:10). About the same time he sent the First Epistle by the shorter sea route to Corinth, perhaps by the hands of Titus and another of his companions (2 Corinthians 12:18), to whom was also given the duty of organising the collection (1 Corinthians 16:1-2). The mission of Timothy was in the first instance to the Churches of Macedonia, and it is uncertain whether or not he ever reached Corinth. Meanwhile the work of organising the collection, whether by Titus or by others, went on apace, and such favourable reports of the success of the movement reached St. Paul, that he afterwards quoted the Corinthians to the converts of Macedonia as an example of liberality (2 Corinthians 9:2). On the completion of these arrangements Titus probably returned to St. Paul at Ephesus and reported the progress made.
(b) The increasing influence of the ’Christ’ party. Very soon after these events there seems to have taken place a considerable increase in the influence of the party of Christ, which is just mentioned in the First Epistle (1 Corinthians 1:12). An attempt, which for a time threatened to prove successful, was made by them to impose upon the Corinthian Church the requirements of the Jewish law, and undermine the influence of St. Paul. We gather the information about this movement, not from any direct statements on the subject, but mainly from the Apostle’s defence of his apostleship, and the points on which he dwells in refuting the charges brought against him. The leaders of this party—perhaps recently arrived from Jerusalem—claimed to speak for Christ in a way in which they said that St. Paul could not speak. They were Hebrews (2 Corinthians 11:22); they called themselves apostles and ministers of Christ (2 Corinthians 11:13, 2 Corinthians 11:23); they taught another gospel, inculcated another spirit, preached even another Jesus (2 Corinthians 11:4). St. Paul calls them false apostles (2 Corinthians 11:13), deceitful workers (ib.), ministers of Satan (2 Corinthians 11:15). It would seem that they set up Judaism as the entrance to Christianity. They may not have insisted upon the imposition of the rite of circumcision, but they probably demanded obedience to the ceremonial law, taking their stand upon the teaching and example of Jesus Himself (e.g. Matthew 3:15; Matthew 5:17), and insisting upon the maintenance of the legal standard of righteousness. They thus naturally came into conflict with St. Paul, whose doctrine of justification by faith (cp. Romans 4, 5) seemed to them to be destructive of the Law; and perhaps being incensed at the lax morals of some of the Corinthian converts, they traced the irregularities to his teaching, and denounced him as a false apostle. Not content with this, they attributed to him vacillation and cowardice (2 Corinthians 10:10), pointed to his refusal of sustenance as a proof of his lack of authority (2 Corinthians 11:7), and declared that he was afraid to exercise the power he boasted of in his letters (2 Corinthians 13:2, 2 Corinthians 13:10). They charged him with cheating his converts (2 Corinthians 12:14-18), said that he was puffed up with vanity (2 Corinthians 10:14), and even called him a fool (2 Corinthians 11:16, 2 Corinthians 11:21, 2 Corinthians 11:23).
In this way these Judaising teachers sought to discredit the Apostle. They probably attracted those who had been of the party of Peter, and those who had been of the party of Christ at an earlier date, and united them in one strong body which influenced or overawed the whole Church. They called themselves Christ’s men, preached Christ as the Messiah according to the flesh, and gloried in their connexion with those who had actually seen the Lord(2 Corinthians 10:7; 2 Corinthians 11:23; 2 Corinthians 12:1).
That they met with great success is evident from the Second Epistle. They turned the Church as a whole against St. Paul. The Corinthians received them without suspicion, listened readily to their charges, and as the result renounced their allegiance to their spiritual father (2 Corinthians 7:2; 2 Corinthians 11:3-4; 2 Corinthians 13:2, 2 Corinthians 13:10). They submitted even to be victimised by these intruders, and allowed them to do with impunity the very things they counted wrong in St. Paul. The members of the Church were so infatuated with their new teachers that they permitted themselves to be ’brought into bondage, devoured, robbed, struck in the face’ (2 Corinthians 11:20). The more the new apostles demanded, the better they were pleased with them. All that St. Paul had done for them was for the time forgotten, and their allegiance transferred to the new-comers, who denounced him as no minister of Christ at all.
(c) St. Paul’s brief (unrecorded) visit to Corinth.
It was not long before the news of the revolt reached St. Paul. It may be that Timothy coming south to Corinth as the Apostle indicated in the First Epistle (1 Corinthians 4:17) found the Church already in revolt, and that on attempting to deliver a message from his master he was insulted and put to silence (2 Corinthians 7:12. Here ’his cause that suffered wrong’ may refer to Timothy). Or it may be that the Apostle heard of the state of matters in some other way, as he had heard of their contentions before writing the First Epistle (1 Corinthians 1:11). In any case, he felt that he must take prompt and resolute action, and accordingly he paid a short visit to Corinth in order to restore his authority and win the Corinthians back to their allegiance.
This visit is not recorded in the book of Acts, nor is its occurrence related in so many words in St. Paul’s letters; but it is frequently referred to in 2 Corinthians and implied in several of the Apostle’s statements. In 2 Corinthians 2:1 he distinctly alludes to a visit which he had paid to the Church ’in sorrow.’ In 2 Corinthians 12:14; 2 Corinthians 13:1 he announces that he is coming to them the third time. And as the only visit recorded in the Acts or in 1 Corinthians is the visit made when founding the Church, it is obvious that a second visit must have been paid in the interval before these passages were penned. In 2 Corinthians 13:2 indeed he distinctly mentions this second visit, and reminds them that he told them on that occasion that if he came again and found them unrepentant he would not spare them. This visit was probably paid as soon as he received the bad news, the journey being made by sea. The Apostle’s appearance at Corinth, however, had not the expected effect. The influence of the Judaisers was still supreme: an attack of the illness to which he was subject prostrated him, and it was interpreted by his enemies as a mark of divine disfavour, and used to discredit his apostleship (2 Corinthians 12:7-10). He had to retire to Ephesus baffled and disheartened, having perhaps been insulted and denounced to his face in presence of the Church by some violent member (2 Corinthians 7:12, if the reference is not to Timothy but to himself. But see note).
(d) The visit of Titus with the ’severe’ letter.
On reaching Ephesus again St. Paul wrote a letter to the recalcitrant Church, in which he sought to bring the members to a sense of their position. This letter is referred to in 2 Corinthians 2:3-4; 2 Corinthians 7:8. It was written ’in much affliction with many tears’; it was stern and severe in its tone; and it was designed to make them sorry and bring them to repentance. So strong were its terms, indeed, that St. Paul for a time regretted having written it. The greater portion of this ’severe’ letter, in the view of an increasing number of scholars, is preserved in 2 Corinthians 10-13. This theory solves many of the problems raised by 2 Corinthians, and best explains the facts as we know them. (For reasons see below, under 2.)
The ’severe’ letter was dispatched from Ephesus by the hands of Titus, who seems to have been regarded by St. Paul as better able to deal with the situation than Timothy. On receiving it the Corinthians were stung by the reproaches of conscience, and repenting of their treatment of St. Paul, cast out of the Church by a majority the man who had given offence by his attack on the Apostle or his messenger (2 Corinthians 2:6), and acknowledged their founder once more (2 Corinthians 7:11). Titus seems to have aided materially in bringing about the happy change; and, having from the outset realised the responsibility of the charge committed to him, he was overjoyed at the issue of his visit (2 Corinthians 7:6-7).
(e) St. Paul’s meeting with Titus. Meanwhile St. Paul left Ephesus and crossed the sea to Philippi, sailing along the coast to Troas, and thence taking ship for Europe. Troas offered him a good field for mission work (2 Corinthians 2:12); but, when Titus did not appear as he expected, anxiety about the Coririthians drove him onwards to meet him. At last in Macedonia (perhaps at Philippi) he encountered his messenger (2 Corinthians 2:13; 2 Corinthians 7:5, 2 Corinthians 7:8), and was relieved and gladdened by the good news he brought. In his delight at the return of the Corinthians to their faithfulness, he proceeded to carry out his purpose of visiting them as announced in the First Epistle (1 Corinthians 16:5), and first of all sent Titus back to them with a letter expressive of his relief and joy—the Second Epistle, 2 Corinthians 1-9.
This plan of visiting Corinth after passing through Macedonia was ultimately carried out according to his original intention; but at one period St. Paul had in mind another plan, which he afterwards disclosed to the Corinthians. This was to cross by the direct route from Ephesus to Corinth, and from thence to visit Macedonia, returning again to Corinth on the way to Jerusalem, thus giving the Corinthians ’a double benefit’ (2 Corinthians 1:15-16). Circumstances, however, caused him to revert to his original intention, and pay the visit to Macedonia before going south to Corinth.
(f) The ’thankful’ letter.
2 Corinthians 1-9 of the Second Epistle seem to constitute the letter written by the Apostle after receiving the good news. This letter was sent by Titus, who is repeatedly referred to in it (2 Corinthians 2:13; 2 Corinthians 7:6, 2 Corinthians 7:13-14; 2 Corinthians 8:6, 2 Corinthians 8:16, 2 Corinthians 8:23) and with him were sent other two—’the brother whose praise is in the gospel throughout all the churches’(2 Corinthians 8:18), and ’our brother whom we have oftentimes proved diligent in many things’ (2 Corinthians 8:22). Besides the conveyance of the letter they were entrusted with the reorganisation of the collection for the saints at Jerusalem, which had promised well when it was begun, but had probably fallen into abeyance while the trouble lasted (2 Corinthians 9:2, 2 Corinthians 9:5). Following in their footsteps, St. Paul soon afterwards himself arrived at Corinth to complete the reconciliation.
2. The Authenticity, Unity, and Date of the Epistle.
(a) That the Second Epistle is a genuine work of St. Paul has seldom been seriously disputed. Allusions to passages in it are found early in the second century in the letters of Polycarp, and it is quoted by the early Christian writers, Ireneeus, Athenagoras, and Clement of Alexandria. The evidence from the Epistle itself is stronger. In particular, the personal allusions and references, the details of the Apostle’s life and work, the intensely earnest character of its thanksgivings and appeals, confirm its own testimony to the authorship of St. Paul.
(b) The theory that portions of more than one letter of St. Paul to the Corinthians are to be detected in the Second Epistle is supported by the following amongst other arguments:
(1) The thoughtful reader of 2 Corinthians can hardly fail to notice the remarkable change in tone between 2 Corinthians 1-9, 10-13. In 2 Corinthians 1-9 the breach between St. Paul and the Corinthians seems to be completely healed. The section abounds in expressions of love and goodwill, of thanksgiving and confidence: cp. 2 Corinthians 2:3, 2 Corinthians 2:10; 2 Corinthians 3:2; 2 Corinthians 7:4, 2 Corinthians 7:7, 2 Corinthians 7:9, 2 Corinthians 7:11; 2 Corinthians 8:7; 2 Corinthians 9:13, 2 Corinthians 9:14. In 2 Corinthians 10-13, on the other hand, it is evident that the breach is not yet healed. He there meets charges brought against him (2 Corinthians 10:2, 2 Corinthians 10:10; 2 Corinthians 11:6-7 etc.), defends his apostleship by an appeal to his work and sufferings (2 Corinthians 11:21-33), declares himself to be in no way ’behind the very chief est apostles’ (2 Corinthians 12:11), and threatens to visit them in severity and not to spare (2 Corinthians 13:2). The circumstances to which the writer has regard in 2 Corinthians 1-9 are different from those to which he looks in 2 Corinthians 10-13. No explanation is so satisfactory as that which dates 2 Corinthians 10-13 before, and 2 Corinthians 1-9 after, the causes of strife had been removed.
(2) There are passages in 2 Corinthians 1-9 which seem to refer to passages in 2 Corinthians 10-13, and are best explained in the light of them. Cp. 2 Corinthians 13:2, ’If I come again, I will not spare,’ with 2 Corinthians 1:23, ’To spare you I forbore to come to Corinth’; and 2 Corinthians 13:10, ’I write these things while absent, that I may not when present deal sharply,’ with 2 Corinthians 2:3, ’I wrote this very thing, lest, when I came, I should have sorrow’: cp. also 2 Corinthians 10:2 with 2 Corinthians 8:22, 2 Corinthians 10:6 with 2 Corinthians 2:9 and 2 Corinthians 11:5, 2 Corinthians 11:18, 2 Corinthians 11:23 with 2 Corinthians 3:1; 2 Corinthians 5:12.
(3) In 2 Corinthians 1-9 there are four references to a former letter apparently severe in tone. (a) It was written ’out of much affliction and anguish of heart with many tears’ (2 Corinthians 2:4); (b) after sending it away the Apostle repented of his action (2 Corinthians 7:8); (c) in it he had commended himself ’again’ (2 Corinthians 3:1; 2 Corinthians 5:12); (d) the Apostle was at the time of writing the former letter meditating a visit to deal sharply with them, which, however, in mercy he did not pay (2 Corinthians 1:23; 2 Corinthians 2:1). These points describe the letter 2 Corinthians 10-13, and apply to no other letter of the Apostle now extant; e.g. (a) and (b) cannot refer to the First Epistle, and (c) does not apply either to the First Epistle or to any passage in 2 Cor before 2 Corinthians 3:1, where he speaks of commending himself ’again.’
(4) 2 Corinthians 1-9 were written from Macedonia (2 Corinthians 2:13; 2 Corinthians 7:5; 2 Corinthians 9:2). while 2 Corinthians 10:16 indicates that the geographical position of the writer of that passage—which speaks of his hope to preach the gospel in the regions beyond them—was on the E. of Corinth rather than on the N., for we know that St. Paul’s plan was to visit Rome. This suggests that 2 Corinthians 10-13 were written from Ephesus, and affords another hint of identification between 2 Corinthians 10-13 and the ’severe’ letter of 2 Corinthians 2:4; 2 Corinthians 7:8. [A full discussion of the question is given in Dr. J. H. Kennedy’s ’The Second and Third Epistles to the Corinthians,’ from which the above sections are mainly drawn.]
(c) The dates of the two parts of the Second Epistle remains to be fixed. According to the evidence afforded by First and Second Corinthians themselves, the latter was written about eighteen months after the former. In 1 Corinthians 16 St. Paul gives directions about the collection for the poor in Jerusalem, mentioning such details about the method to be adopted in gathering it as lead us to the conclusion that a beginning was now only being made with it. As the offerings were to be made weekly, and as many of the converts were poor (1 Corinthians 1:26), it is obvious that some months would have to elapse before the contributions amounted to such a sum as the Church would like to send. In 2 Corinthians 9:2, however, the Apostle commends them for being ready with their contribution ’a year ago’: cp. 2 Corinthians 8:10. It therefore follows that some months more than a year separate the First Epistle from these passages in the Second. If, therefore, the First Epistle was written in the spring of 55 or 56, it follows that chs, 1-9 of the Second were written in the autumn of 56 or 57. 2 Corinthians 10-13 were written in any case only a month or six weeks before 2 Corinthians 1-9. That about eighteen months thus separated the First and Second Epistles is confirmed by the recollection of the number of events which took place between them. We have to allow time for the transmission of the First Epistle, for the development of the rebellion against St. Paul’s authority, for the news to reach the Apostle at Ephesus, for his visit to Corinth and return, for the dispatch of the ’severe’ letter by Titus, and for St. Paul’s journey to Philippi. Two lines of proof thus converge upon the same conclusion.
It may be briefly mentioned here that some scholars regard the passage 2 Corinthians 6:14 to 2 Corinthians 7:1 as an interpolation, and hold that it is really part of the first (lost) letter of St. Paul to Corinth. The contents of the passage certainly correspond with what the Apostle tells us was contained in that lost letter (1 Corinthians 5:9); and they break the natural connexion between 2 Corinthians 6:13 and 2 Corinthians 7:2. But the case for eliminating the vv. can hardly be said to be proved.
3. Synopsis of Contents.
(A) 2 Corinthians 1-9. The thankful letter.
|Introduction 2 Corinthians 1:1-11.||Salutation and thanksgiving.|
|I. 2 Corinthians 1:12 to 2 Corinthians 7:16.||Thoughts suggested by the recent crisis.|
|(a) 2 Corinthians 1:12 to 2 Corinthians 2:2.||The sincerity of St. Paul’s intention to visit the Church.|
|(b) 2 Corinthians 2:3-13.||The object and result of the ’severe’ letter.|
|(c) 2 Corinthians 2:14 to 2 Corinthians 5:19.||The glory, the comfort, and the inspiration of the ministry.|
|(i) 2 Corinthians 2:14 to 2 Corinthians 3:6. The Apostle’s true letter of recommendation.|
|(ii) 2 Corinthians 3:7 to 2 Corinthians 4:6. The glory of the gospel.|
|(iii) 2 Corinthians 4:7 to 2 Corinthians 5:10. The sources of his comfort.|
|(iv) 2 Corinthians 5:11-19. The love of Christ his inspiration.|
|(d) 2 Corinthians 5:20 to 2 Corinthians 7:1||Appeal for purity of life.|
|(e) 2 Corinthians 7:2-16.||The Apostle’s joy in the Corinthians’ repentance.|
|II. 2 Corinthians 8:1 to 2 Corinthians 9:15.||The collection for the poor in Jerusalem.|
|(a) 2 Corinthians 8:1-9.||The example of the Macedonian Churches.|
|(b) 2 Corinthians 8:10-24.||The principles of Christian liberality.|
|(c) 2 Corinthians 9:1-15.||Exhortations to generous giving.|
(B) 2 Corinthians 10-13. The ’severe’ letter. St. Paul’s defence of his ministry.
|(a) 2 Corinthians 10:1-18.||Answer to the charge of feebleness and cowardice.|
|(b) 2 Corinthians 1:11-15.||Defence of his gospel and his independence.|
|(c) 2 Corinthians 11:16 to 2 Corinthians 12:18.||The evidences of his apostleship in suffering and service.|
|(d) 2 Corinthians 12:19 to 2 Corinthians 13:10.||Warnings against evil and exhortations to holiness.|
|(e) 2 Corinthians 13:11-14.||Conclusion and benediction.|
4. Outline of the Epistle.
2 Corinthians 1-9. The Apostle sends his salutation to the Corinthian Church, and gives thanks for the comfort which comes through suffering and for the power of sympathy it confers (2 Corinthians 1:1-11). He then passes to the crisis through which the Church had passed, and gives some thoughts suggested by it. He asserts the sincerity of his intentions to pay the Corinthians another visit, although he has been obliged to change his plans; and he shows that such changes of his plans as he had made, were made with a view to their benefit (2 Corinthians 1:12 to 2 Corinthians 2:2). He had, indeed, written them a severe letter which caused them pain; but he could not regret it because it had brought them to repentance and secured the purity of the Church, and enabled him to forgive the now penitent offender (2 Corinthians 2:3-13). Next he enlarges upon the joy attending the successful preaching of the gospel (2 Corinthians 2:14-17). He sees in his converts his true letters of commendation—even, so to speak, letters of Christ Himself, bearing His signature and witnessing to His influence (2 Corinthians 3:1-4). He remembers, indeed, the great responsibility of his work, but finds comfort in recalling the unfailing supply of strength from God; and he contrasts the old ministry of the law with the new ministry of reconciliation through Christ (2 Corinthians 3:5 to 2 Corinthians 4:6). The glory of the gospel reminds him of the weakness of those to whom its message is entrusted. In themselves they are feeble; but their faith prevails over all difficulties as they look, not on the seen and temporal, but on the unseen and eternal (2 Corinthians 4:7-18). They know too that death overtakes the mortal body, but they know that God has provided them with an immortal body, and has given them the pledge of eternal life in the gift of His indwelling Spirit (2 Corinthians 5:1-5).
They are therefore always faithful to the trust committed to them, being constrained by the love of Christ to plead with men to be reconciled to God and to become new creatures in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:6-21). The Apostle goes on to point to his own conduct as the proof of his claims to be a minister of God, and beseeches the Corinthians to live unspotted from the world (2 Corinthians 6:1 to 2 Corinthians 7:1). He appeals to them by his affection for them to be reconciled to him, and rejoices anew in their repentance (2 Corinthians 7:2-16).
The Apostle then calls their attention to the collection for the poor in Jerusalem, telling them of the example set by the Churches of Macedonia (2 Corinthians 8:1-9), enunciating the principles of Christian liberality, and reminding them of the self-sacrifice of Christ (2 Corinthians 8:10-24), and finally exhorting them to generous and cheerful giving (2 Corinthians 9:1-15).
2 Corinthians 10-13. St. Paul defends his ministry from the attacks of enemies, and vindicates his apostleship. A charge of vacillation and cowardice had been made against him, and he assures the Corinthians that if strong measures are really necessary to bring them to a right way of thinking, he will not shrink from taking them (2 Corinthians 10:1-18). He does not wish to boast of his position in reply to his enemies, but he points out that he had maintained his independence among them, and had never been a burden to them (2 Corinthians 11:1-10). Those who speak against him and boast of their zeal are no true apostles; in spite of their talk of righteousness they are as false as their master, Satan (2 Corinthians 11:11-15). But seeing that boasting is the fashion, he also will boast—he will boast of his labours, his sufferings, his anxieties, his visions and revelations, nay, his very thorn in the flesh, in all which he rejoices for Christ’s sake (2 Corinthians 11:16 to 2 Corinthians 12:10). He goes on to apologise for this boasting, and for his refusal to receive gifts from them. But he is glad he has maintained his independence, because none can say that he made his converts a source of gain (2 Corinthians 12:12-21). He finally assures them of his approaching visit, warning them that if need be he will exercise his authority, but pleading rather for their repentance and submission (2 Corinthians 13).
5. Teaching of the Epistle.
(a) 2 Corinthians 1-9. (1) The teaching of this Epistle is based, like the teaching of the First Epistle, on the great thought of the union of Christ and the believer. The sufferings of St. Paul which he endures for the gospel’s sake are ’the sufferings of Christ’ (2 Corinthians 1:5), and the consolation he receives ’aboundeth by Christ’ (2 Corinthians 1:5). Those whom he forgives, he forgives ’in Christ’ (2 Corinthians 2:10); and the gospel he preaches, he preaches ’in the sight of God in Christ’ (2 Corinthians 2:17). He bears about in his body ’the dying of the Lord Jesus,’ and he is ’delivered unto death for Jesus’ sake, that the life also of Jesus might be manifest’ in his own life (2 Corinthians 4:10-11). This union with Christ, in which he lives himself, is the union he desires for others. ’If any man be in Christ he is a new creature’ (2 Corinthians 5:17), and they themselves are established with him ’in Christ’(2 Corinthians 1:21).
On the basis of this doctrine he urges them to forgiveness (2 Corinthians 2:10), encourages them to perseverance (2 Corinthians 4:15), beseeches them to be reconciled to God (2 Corinthians 5:20), and exhorts them to a life of purity and holiness (2 Corinthians 7:1).
(2) A considerable portion of the letter is occupied with the collection. This collection is mentioned first in 1 Corinthians 16. Its purpose was to provide assistance for the poor Christians in Jerusalem, of whom there had been many from the beginning (Acts 6:1, Acts 6:3). St. Paul regarded the Church at Jerusalem as the Mother-Church, and sought to interest his converts in the head-quarters of their faith. The collection also enabled the members of the Churches in Galatia (1 Corinthians 16:1), Macedonia (2 Corinthians 8:1), and Achaia, to realise their unity as members of one Church, as well as to give evidence of their sympathy with their brethren. The offerings were to be laid aside week by week upon the Lord’s Day (1 Corinthians 16:2), and to be finished before the Apostle arrived. At the end of the time, under his own superintendence, they were to be dispatched to Jerusalem by men chosen by the Church (1 Corinthians 16:3). In exhorting the Corinthians to liberality he quotes to them the example of the Macedonian Churches, which in this matter (2 Corinthians 8:2-3), as well as in others (Philippians 4:10-17), were distinguished for generosity: and reminds them of the example of Christ (2 Corinthians 8:9), who ’though he was rich yet for your sakes became poor.’ He urges them to give cheerfully (2 Corinthians 9:7) and liberally (2 Corinthians 9:6), according to their means (2 Corinthians 8:13-14); not holding back through indifference or greed (2 Corinthians 8:10-11), nor feeling compelled to give in such a way as to make the offering a burden (2 Corinthians 8:13), but presenting their gifts out of a willing mind (2 Corinthians 8:12), and remembering that they may need some help themselves in their day of necessity, which would be gladly given (2 Corinthians 8:14). And he tells them that this offering has not only a material, but also a religious value; for it causes the recipients of it to give thanks to God, recognising in it a gift from Him (2 Corinthians 9:12), and it is a powerful witness to the Christian faith and obedience of those who so freely bestow it (2 Corinthians 9:13).
(b) 2 Corinthians 10-13. These chapters are wholly occupied with St. Paul’s reply to his enemies’ attack, and are chiefly interesting for the information they give us about the doings of the troublers of the Church, and about the life of the Apostle himself. The former subject has already been touched upon (see I (b)); the latter may now be noticed. In 2 Corinthians 11:22-33; St. Paul mentions several incidents in his career which are not recorded in the sketch of his missionary career given in the Acts of the Apostles. He speaks of five floggings at the hands of the Jews, none of which are mentioned elsewhere. Of the three beatings with rods only one is recorded (Acts 16:23). Of the shipwrecks we know nothing, as the events recorded in Acts 27 did not occur until a later date. It was evidently on the occasion of one of these that he spent a night and a day in the deep, probably on a raft or on wreckage. He tells us also of his escape from Damascus, which is also recorded in Acts (Acts 9:25), affording confirmation of the narrative there. These incidental hints suggest the intensely interesting career which full knowledge of the Apostle’s travels would have revealed, and show us in some slight degree the privations and dangers and afflictions summed up in that phrase ’the sufferings of Christ’ (2 Corinthians 1:5).
the Second Week of Advent